|Original caption: "Entering the Judean Hills, Wady Ali, old route|
Jaffa to Jerusalem." (Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)
Today, the location is called "Sha'ar HaGai" in Hebrew (Gate of the Valley). The name "Sha'ar HaGai" can be found in the Biblical book of Chronicles II (26:9) referring to the fortified towers and gates of Jerusalem built by King Uziyahu.
The Arabs referred to the site as "Bab al-Wad," (Gate of the Valley); the valley was called "Wadi Ali."
|The Library of Congress archives dates this |
picture of the "entrance to the Judean Hills" as 1900
"Bab al-Wad" was a popular and mournful song memorializing the convoys which attempted to break through the siege during Israel's war of independence.
According to blogger Daniel Ventura, the rocky path to Jerusalem was "paved" in the 1860s and formally dedicated for the visit of Austrian Kaiser Franz Josef in 1869. The Turkish "Khan" -- wayside rest station (a precursor to a gas station) -- was built in 1873. Reader Rose Feldman wrote, "Sha'ar HaGai was the way station where horses were changed on the way to Jerusalem at the beginning of the 20th century."
Ventura quotes a 19th century writer, Binyamin Ze'ev HaLevy Sapir, Jerusalem editor of The Lebanon newspaper, who reported in 1869, "The way from Jaffa to Jerusalem is almost well-finished, and two horse-drawn wagons come and go every day. The trip from Jaffa to Jerusalem takes 10 hours, and horses are switched at Bab al-Wad."
The road today:
|The highway today. Ruins of the Turkish Khan can still be seen alongside the road. (Google Earth)|